COVID-19 Resources and HCHC Response

Image

If you are an HCHC patient, please call before you come in for any appointment in any department if you have reason to think that you are at risk of infection – fever, cough, international travel, or exposure to someone who has these symptoms or had been diagnosed with COVID-19. You can find the phone numbers for all of our sites here.

We would like to give you an update on how HCHC is responding to the COVID-19 epidemic, and how this may affect your access to care.  We want to stress that HCHC is committed to supporting our patients and community in any way we can.  We are making decisions every day about the best way to respond to this crisis while keeping our staff, our patients, and our communities as safe as possible.

Si necesita leer este correo electrónico en español, utilice este enlace: https://www.hchcweb.org/covid-19-recursos-y-respuesta-de-hchc/

In keeping with state guidelines, HCHC is limiting certain services to reduce the risk of infection of our patients and staff.  Most medical and behavioral health visits will be by telephone, and some services will be postponed.  Most routine dental and optometry visits will be postponed.  We will continue to see patients in all of our locations to meet their urgent needs.  All patients must be seen by appointment and should call first.

Patients with respiratory issues and/or fever should call for assistance.  If your provider determines that you need to be evaluated in the health center, you will be given specific instructions to be seen at our Huntington Health Center, where we have the ability to safely evaluate you.  We are currently NOT able to see patients with acute respiratory issues or fevers in our Worthington or Amherst centers.  We do NOT currently have the ability to test patients for COVID-19 infection.

As of today, we are offering the following services:

  • Emergency dental and optometry services only.  Due to the risk to our staff and patients, we are not providing cleanings, eye exams, and other routine care in these departments.  We will still offer emergency services, so please call if you require immediate care.  Our receptionists are calling patients with routine dental and optometry appointments in the next two weeks to reschedule these visits for a later time.
  • Emergency or urgent medical services only.   Medical care is being conducted by telephone when possible, and some visits will be rescheduled.  Patients who require in-person evaluation should call to discuss this with a medical provider first, before arriving at the health center, so that we can arrange treatment in the safest manner possible.
  • Behavioral Health services by telephone only.  Behavioral Health providers are contacting all patients with appointments to convert them to phone calls.
  • All of our sites, in Worthington, Huntington, and Amherst, will be answering phone calls and determining what visits need to occur in the health center.  To ensure the safety of our patients, our staff are talking to each patient and making decisions about whether the visit can delayed, done over the phone, or if it is urgent enough to require a visit to a health center site.  Please call so that we can provide you with the safest and most appropriate level of care.
  • Community Programs staff are still available to support our patients with their non-clinical needs.
    • Our Community Health Workers are actively working with members of the community, patients and non-patients, to ensure that we are supporting their access to food, medication, and other supports to keep them healthy and at home.
    • Our Domestic Violence Victim Advocates are still meeting with people who need them in the safest and most appropriate way, and are working closely with the State Police to be responsive to individual’s safety needs.
    • Our Health Access Insurance Navigators are meeting on the phone with community members who need help navigating changes in job status/income.  They can assist with signing up for Medicaid or other insurances, to ensure that everyone has the access to health care that they need.
    • Our Family Center is closed, but its staff are providing daily emails and sometimes phone calls to parents to provide support and guidance for those home with children.

Here are links to the most recent resources:

What can I do avoid being infected by the new Corona virus, which has been named COVID-19?

The best precaution is to regularly wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

For much more detail on prevention efforts, please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website on Prevention and Treatment.

Should I wear a mask, and if so, when?

Public health officials believe that the cloth masks do little to protect against coronavirus and can give people a false sense of security. The best protection against coronavirus is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Alcohol gel is also an option, as long as it has over 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Masks can be useful in some settings, such as a clinic waiting room, to prevent someone who has a respiratory illness from spreading it to others. There is no hard evidence that wearing a mask protects the wearer outside of the health care setting.

It is appropriate to wear a mask in public if you are sick and need to go out.

Masks are appropriate in waiting rooms, if you need to wait for an extended period, or if you are caring for someone who is sick. It is very important right now for the healthy members of the public not to wear masks when they are not required – those who are vulnerable and health care workers need access to masks in order to prevent the spread of the virus and treat the ill.

How can I manage my stress and anxiety about the epidemic?

There are a number of behavioral health care resources for coping with fear, anxiety, and increased stress related to COVID-19:

  • CDC’s web page with information and resources specifically for mental health support:

              https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/coping.html

  • Disaster distress hotline that people can call or text 24/7 to reach someone to talk to:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.   People with deafness or hearing loss can use their preferred relay service to call 1-800-985-5990.

  • Anxiety prevention/ stress reduction tips:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/03/03/811656226/pandemic-panic-these-5-tips-can-help-you-regain-your-calm

      How is Hilltown Community Health Center (HCHC) preparing for a possible outbreak of coronavirus?

      There are a number of proactive preparedness efforts underway at HCHC. Specifically:

      • A multi-disciplinary team is collaborating to ensure HCHC is ready to respond, if there is a need to test or provide care for patients with possible COVID-19.

      • Leadership teams at HCHC are in constant contact and coordinating our preparedness with local hospitals; local and state health departments, as well as the CDC).

      • We are screening patients to identify high-risk travel or other risk factors.

      Where can I get more information?

      For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Mass DPH website and CDC website.

      For more information about local efforts, you can also visit the websites of Cooley Dickinson Health Care, Baystate Health System, or Berkshire Medical Center.